Stop and Search
Using the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the police have the power to stop and search to protect members of the community. We know being stop and searched can be a scary or annoying process but remember it is an important tool the police have to keep us safe.
Removing clothing: police powers
In a public place a police officer can ask a person to take off their coat, jacket or gloves.
The police can ask a person to take off other clothes including anything they are wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they do, they must take the person somewhere private [out of public view].
If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same gender as the person.
What can the public expect?
Before you’re searched the police officer must tell the person:
- Being told they are being detained for a search
- asked their their surname and police station
- Officer will state what they expect to find, eg drugs
- Explain the reason they want to search the, eg you match the detailed description of someone reported to be offering drugs for sale; this cannot be just because of your race age or gender.
- Explain why they are legally allowed to search you
- Explain that they can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how they can get a copy
If the police officer is not in uniform they must show you their warrant cards / ID; Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) must be in uniform.
If a person is stopped they should record the details of the officers and what happened:
- Time and date
- Officer’s surname and badge number
- Where were you stopped?
- What happened?
What if a person is unhappy about being Stop and searched?
If they were not happy with why they were stopped and searched or with the way in which they were treated during being stopped and searched, they can make a complaint.
To do this, they go to the contact us section of the Devon and Cornwall Police website and follow ‘how to make a complaint’. If they don’t want to make an official complaint but want to give feedback (good or bad) on being stopped and searched they can email the force. This email will be seen by the senior officer reviewing stop and search for the local police and be given to the independent scrutiny group to review.
If a person is Stop and searched, will this show up on as a criminal record?
Being stopped and searched is not the same as being arrested and is not a criminal record, nor something which a person will need to tell an employer or anyone else about unless they want to. While a record of the search is kept, that is not a criminal record and details are not put on the local or national police systems as any sort of suspect or criminal.
Policing the roads
Devon and Cornwall has a vast road network from its arterial routes into the counties to it’s many minor roads.
Police can stop drivers and ask them to take a breath test for any of the following reasons
- They think the driver may have been drinking alcohol.
- A traffic offence has been committed.
- They have been involved in a road traffic accident.
As a neighbourhood police officer it’s your job to build a relationship with your community. It’s up to you to find and manage local issues, and it doesn’t stop there.
Key frontline Staff
Neighbourhood Policing constable: Neighbourhood officer, working as part of a neighbourhood policing team, to provide a presence that is accessible to, responsible for, and accountable to that community. Working collaboratively to address community issues through the use of problem solving by integrated working with a range of public and private partners, building trust and confidence and developing a detailed understanding of the community.
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) act as a key liaison point between local communities and policing. Publicly facing, they provide a visible, accessible and approachable uniformed presence in the community to offer reassurance, defuse situations with threats of conflict, improve confidence and trust, gather information and foster good community relations.
What is neighbourhood policing?
Before the Devon County Constabulary and Cornwall County Constabulary were formed in the 1850s, parish constables were elected once a year by the vestry meeting in each parish. The office of parish constable was often an unpopular one, for they received no wages and many attempted to buy their way out of having to serve. However, once the Constabularies had been formed the locally-appointed parish constables passed into policing history.
The parish constable’s tipstaff and, later, truncheon were ‘badges of office’ as opposed to their modern-day use as weapons of defence. These officers wore no uniforms, so many used to hang their truncheons outside their cottages to indicate their presence and authority.
Parish constablesGeorge Gater Potter (pictured with his wife) (image © Mrs Frances Peek) was the last recorded parish constable of Abbotskerswell, a village near Newton Abbot. This photographic print was taken from an old glass plate negative dated about 1860, or possibly a little earlier, at a time of the infancy of the Devon Constabulary.
Equipment1. Parish constable's truncheon from East Allington. 2. Parish constable's truncheon from Stoke Fleming. 3. Parish constable's truncheon from Bere Ferrers. 4. Parish constable's truncheon from Peter Tavy. 5. Parish constable's tipstaff from Ugborough dated 1819. 6. Parish constable's tipstaff from Meavy 1832. 7. Parish constable's truncheon from Diptford 1822. 8. Parish constable's truncheon from Colebrook. 9 and 10. Handcuffs from the same period.
Small borough forces were created across Devon and Cornwall managing crime and disorder within towns.
Between 1857 and 1860, these borough forces were merged to create two county forces, Cornwall constabulary and Devon constabulary.
In 1926, the increase in volume of traffic in Plymouth was creating a problem with the safety of pedestrians being a concern for the local police force.
Contacting the Police
In the 1930s, technology was beginning to have an impact on policing and it was during this time that the 999 system was introduced.
This video showing footage from the 1950s explains the training undertaken by new police officers at Hendon. It also explains the techniques used by detectives of the time in dealing with serious crime.
This video showing footage from the 1960s shows how technology started to have an impact on the way officers policed. Although it looks antique now compared to modern techniques, at the the time this was ground breaking.
Devon and Cornwall Police
In 1966, the two county police forces merged into the one force, creating Devon and Cornwall constabulary.
Female Police Officers
Although female worked within the police service before this time, it was only in 1970 that females were fully integrated into the force with the same powers as their male counterparts. This archive video sows many of the differences for women compared to modern day policing.
There are a number of custody centres across the force area dealing with offenders upon arrest. When a person is arrested they will usually be taken to a police station, held in custody in a cell and then questioned.
The custody officer at the police station must explain the person’s rights. These include:
get free legal advice
tell someone where they are
have medical help if they’re feeling ill
see the rules the police must follow
see a written notice telling their rights, eg regular breaks for food and toilet use
They will be searched and their possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while in the cell.
You can find more on the government website.
Investigating crime is an integral part of policing and officers are trained to find clues and evidence at crime scenes.
Crimes can range from burglaries through to attacks on individuals. This video describes a difficult case and contains some graphic content.
What is Locard’s Exchange Principle?
Edmond Locard’s Exchange Principle states that with contact between two items, there will be an exchange of microscopic material. This certainly includes fibers, but extends to other microscopic materials such as hair, pollen, paint, and soil.
This means that is impossible for an offender not to leave some evidence of them being at a crime scene.
Now that you have seen some of the basics, let’s see if you can take part in a more complex investigation. This scenario encourages you to seek the right evidence to secure a conviction.
A response officer deals with incidents as they come in from the control room to their radio. Every incident can be unique and comes with potential risk. Every new police officer serves a 2-year probationary period in which they take on the response officer role.
This role includes:
Often being first to an incident, meaning take taking control of often difficult situations, assessing threat and risk
Dealing with vulnerable people
Dealing with potentially dangerous situations, i.e. disorder, domestic incidents etc
Liaising with partners (ambulance, fire service etc)
Keeping people and property safe, preserving order and prevent offending
Effective investigation including securing evidence
Recording information, including recording crimes and incidents inline with the law
Driving to incidents using advanced driving skills
Part of the role of the police is to prevent acts of extremism. Although thankfully rare, Devon and Cornwall Police support the national drive in preventing acts of terror.
This video explains what Prevent is and how it is implemented.
Preventing extremism is an important part of a policing. The impact of a terrorist attack can be significant and devastating. What may surprise you is that for everyday policing, there are a number of simple behaviours to learn. Police officers are trained to identify suspicious activity.
If an officer finds a suspicious object, they follow these simple rules:
- Does the object belong to anyone nearby?
- If it doesn’t, we need to apply the ‘HOT’ protocol…
- Has it been concealed or hidden from view?
- Bombs are unlikely to be left in locations such as this – where any unattended item will be noticed quickly.
- Does it have wires, circuit boards, batteries, tape or putty-like substances?
- Do you think the item poses an immediate threat to life?
- Is the item typical of what you would expect to find in this location?
- Most lost property is found in locations where people congregate.